GMAT Score Inflation

CentralBanker's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 648

Hey there monkeys,

About a week ago I read a thread on WSO about the GMAT: How I got a 770 on the GMAT . . . whitecollarandsuspenders version

The comments section had a quite interesting common topic that it was touching on: GMAT Score Inflation.

Most of the monkeys here probably already know this, but I'm going to mention it anyway for clarification:

You can retake the GMAT up to 5 times in any 12-month period, but no more than once in any 16-day period. You can request to GMAC in writing if you want to take it more than that, but applications are only considered after you have actually taken the 5th test.

This practically means that there are virtually unlimited tries for a candidate to take the GMAT test. As @Pmc2ghy mentioned in the previous thread, it's crazy how people just have to invest more time and money until they get their ideal score for B-school admission.

The thing is, as you retake and retake it again, your score is expected to rise. This may seem obvious but it's actually backed by statistical data.

This Poets & Quants Article shows that the overall average gain was 33 points.

Poets and Quants

While this Economist article shows how the ""average score at an MBA program ranked in The Economist's top ten in the year 2000 was 688 out of a possible 800. In 2014 it was 722."

The key takeaway: Quality of MBA students in 2000 and 2014 hasn't changed. A score of 722 buys you no more today than a score of 688 would have 14 years ago. However, this may be a little bit hard to accept. After all, getting a 722 vs a 688 could be all the difference that you need to get into that M7.

This brings up a question: Is it really worth it to retake a $250 test for that possibility of a better score? And in what ways do these scores actually represent your intelligence and aptitude for an MBA program?

Comments (16)

Nov 14, 2017


Aug 22, 2017

"The key takeaway: Quality of MBA students in 2000 and 2014 hasn't changed."

How do you reach this conclusion?

    • 1
    • 1
Aug 23, 2017

Hey there, I just took it out of the Economist article. I do think there might be slight changes among the two. :-)

    • 1
Aug 22, 2017

The GMAT is a pos but honestly what are you going to do with this information? I don't see the point of worrying about something out of your control. Just gotta do your best and hope that some Asian fuccboi who cheated on the exam doesn't take your spot.

Also, taking a step back, the entire MBA app process is a clown show. You have to write essays which literally everybody lies about their ambitions/reasoning for attending bschool, consultants help in the process to varying degrees including writing some people's entire essays and recommendations, some people are asked to write their own recs by their employers. C'est la vie

    • 1
    • 2
Best Response
Aug 22, 2017

Don't forget that these schools: 1) want your money and 2) want to take responsibility for your career success. They don't particularly care about intelligence or aptitude-the educations they offer are a complete joke. The point I'm trying to make is that there's nothing noble or meritocratic about this-it's a straight up arms race for rankings and prestige employers, and schools will happily look the other way if you can bring them a 760 on your 5th try along with a resume with name companies on it. And they'll smile while they take your 200 grand, too.

Knowing this ahead of time should give you an advantage-you'll do away with all pretense of "achievement" and just piss away the cash until you get the score you need. It's worth it. The (incredible) Job I have now? I called my GMAT math tutor from FIVE years ago who scalped me on his fees to thank him for shifting my life's trajectory. If I'm honest with myself, I probably have no more aptitude than a chihuahua but who cares? Test prep works, and I'd have taken the exam another 20 times if needed.

Free Consultation

Vantage Point MBA's clients are accepted to the top MBA programs at a 3x higher rate than the average acceptance rates. Request a consultation with their team to learn how they can help you gain admission to your dream schools. Learn more.

Aug 22, 2017

On another note, I met my fair share of Asians who posted 99th percentile Verbal scores but couldn't put together a basic sentence. I figured they maybe were savants or autistic, but then I learned they hadn't all necessarily been interviewed, and also witnessed just how much cheating they do throughout

It makes sense; if I live in a country that lives and dies by entrance exams and am competing against a billion other motivated folks, I'd do whatever it takes to make it out of there. Right up to and including hiring a whole staff to cover everything from taking my exam to writing my essays. Again, knowing this much, you'd be crazy not to maximize the one shot you have to get your app moved up through the pile.

Aug 23, 2017

How do they cheat on the verbal? Asking for a friend.

    • 1
Aug 22, 2017

Not sure if this can link but Atlantic wrote an expose on this last year. Namely they hire people to impersonate them

Aug 30, 2017

how do they get in without an interview?

Aug 22, 2017

-Schools offer waitlist slots without interview- and candidates can just ride them out if the verbal and TOEFL scores are high enough.

-You can get an interview waiver if the school doesn't have anyone in your area to interview you, so folks will deliberately apply from some more remote regions within their country

Aug 23, 2017

As someone who has taken the GMAT a few times, I would say, generally speaking, yes, the $250 for a retake is absolutely worth it. Small price to pay in the grand scheme of things (i.e. you will be $150-200K in debt anyways...) for significant upside.

I would caveat that, for top schools, it is much more important to retake the GMAT if you are trying to go from a ~680 to ~710, than from a 720 to 740. Once you score >700 and are +/- 10-15 from the average score of your school, your time is probably better spent on the other elements of your application (e.g. essays, rec letters, research, campus visits, etc.) versus taking another month or two studying for a retake.

Just my 2cents.

    • 1
Aug 23, 2017

Agreed - if you're about to drop $200k, why wouldn't you pump $250 into a few tests if it helps your chances to get into a better school?

Aug 29, 2017

This makes sense but it's good to know that the GMAT is not capped out and essentially its not life or death

Aug 23, 2017

Hell, I would pay $250 to find out what my score was on my one retake. I cancelled the score because I didn't finish the math section the second time around and was worried my score would be lower. I wasn't aware schools only cared about your highest score. I also took it 6 months before they introduced the "see your score before you decide" feature. Now I loved my school and got the same job I would have chosen at any other school, but I still would love to know what the second score was.

Nov 17, 2017

Better off taking the practice tests from the GMAT prep until you get your desired score, then pay for the test. My last gmat score on the prep software was 710 - exactly the same score I got on the actual GMAT when I took it several days after the practice exam (I had previously gotten 680 before studying more). The GMAT Prep software practice test is very indicative of what score you will get on the actual GMAT. No need to pay $250 and invest all that time into taking multiple real tests, just pay $40 or whatever to download the study pack. You'll save a lot of time and money using practice exams, and they are just as effective, but only from the GMAT prep software produced by the same company that writes the GMAT. I used that software exclusively and managed a 710 with only just under 100 hours or so invested and less than $200 spent on studying materials.

Aug 30, 2017